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Met to use IT specialist special constables to fight e-crime

Bill Goodwin
The Metropolitan Police would be willing to take on IT security professionals as volunteer special constables during complex computer crime investigations.

Metropolitan Police commissioner John Stevens, speaking at the National Hi-Tech Crime E-Crime Congress last week, said that "specialist specials," which are being considered by the government, could make a significant difference to high-tech policing.

"Police reforms offer us the opportunity to address the services of specialist specials. Why should we not use people who have specialist skills in areas we need to go into? We should look at how they could provide help to specialist units," he said.

IT security professionals have been lobbying for the police to boost their resources by working more closely with the private sector, but the proposals, which form part of the government's review of policing, have so far been given only a lukewarm reception.

Detective chief superintendent Len Hynds, head of the NHTCU, said he had reservations about using specialist constables as there could be many practical difficulties. "Apart from security and vetting, there are issues around confidentiality during their day jobs, working for a particular company. How would they manage the potential for them identifying something that could be a commercial advantage?"

Stevens said that traditional police values would still apply to e-crime investigations but it was essential for the police to work with business to mitigate the risk. "There is no room for any complacency whatsoever," he said.

More needs to be done at school to educate young people in how to use computers responsibly he said, adding that he supported government plans, highlighted by MP Caroline Flint last week, to increase sentences for computer crime and strengthen the Computer Misuse Act against denial of service attacks.

The law must recognise the damage hackers cause, whatever their motives, he said.

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